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“Any Time Is Toad Time.”

§ June 17th, 2022 § Filed under from the vast Mikester comic archives, obituary § 6 Comments

Added another old comic to the personal collection this week, the relatively hard-to-find 1970 underground Tales of Toad by a pre-Zippy the Pinhead Bill Griffith:


It’s one of those comics I’ve kinda/sorta wanted to get, though all three issues of this series was reprinted in a good-sized anthology book of Griffith’s material some years back. But it’s nice to have The Original Thing…it’s like my semi-ongoing attempts to acquire the first 25 issues of Cerebus that I already have in the Swords of Cerebus reprint books.

Anyway, since I got a #1 in my hands, I went ahead and kept the 2nd issue that I’ve had floating around the shop for some time. Now I just need a #3 to show up eventually. I remember at the previous place of employment we had all three issues, and I probably should’ve picked ’em up then. But I also think that about the two copies of Cerebus #1 we had (original and counterfeit) and oh well.

• • •

I wanted to acknowledge the passing of comics artist Tim Sale, probably most famous for Batman: The Long Halloween, but I’m more a Superman: For All Seasons fan myself.

A unique talent whose contributions to the medium were always a special event. He’ll be missed.

I also saw that Everett Peck, probably best known in comics for Duckman, passed away this week.

I remember getting this in at the shop back in 1990, thinking “huh, what the heck is this” and taking a copy. Very weird and funny, and I was probably just as surprised as Peck was when it became an animated TV show. I honestly didn’t know much about him, so that article I linked was quite informative as to his actual breadth of work.

It’s a hard week for losing unique talents…my condolences to the friends, families, and fans of both Sale and Peck.

George Pérez (1954-2022).

§ May 9th, 2022 § Filed under obituary § 6 Comments


This may be my favorite George Pérez cover, with all these villains just crammed together, all lovingly rendered, all exuding personality and menace, and not feeling crowded or cluttered at all. The coloring job by Anthony Tollin certainly helped, of course, but George’s layout made this cover fun when others might have ended up with an eyesore.

The first Pérez cover I ever saw, far as I can recall, was this issue of Logan’s Run:


I picked it up off the stands when it was new and I was about 7 years old. I hadn’t seen the movie yet…it opened in the summer of ’76 and I won’t see it ’til it hits whatever our pre-HBO pay cable station we had in Port Hueneme a few years later (Cinema 6, I believe it was called). But I’m sure I’d heard of the movie, at least, knowing it was science fiction-y, and that cover intrigued me enough to pester a parent to purchase it for me.


Just the other day I was processing some back issues, and came across the “Who Is Donna Troy?” issue of New Teen Titans. And I did something I never do at the shop: I stopped what I was doing and reread this issue for the first time in many years. No superhero fights, just Dick Grayson doing detective work trying to discover the hidden past of his friend Donna. Coplotted by George and the regular writer, Marv Wolfman, the story still holds up, still hits as hard as it did back when it was released in 1984. Marv’s dialogue still rides high on the melodrama, but that’s a feature, not a bug, and this beautifully-drawn issue hasn’t aged a day. I mean, we’d seen in the series before, but George really hammers home that he can deliver emotional punches on the page just as well as the “knocking down buidings/in bad guys’ faces” kind.

I posted a bit about Pérez’s work late last year, wanting to get that out there while the man was still with us, much like how they wanted that JLA/Avengers reprint out sooner rather than later. And this doesn’t even scratch the surface of the work he’s done, the influence he’s had. I didn’t even mention his long run on Wonder Woman, revitalizing the character after DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths event. Or his eminently entertaining run on Avengers with Kurt Busiek. Or Sachs and Violens with Peter David. Or the “Beatles Life Story” issue of Marvel Super Special he drew. No, really. (Okay, he didn’t do the cover, but still.)

He was an immensely talented, extremely influential, and by all accounts very big-hearted man. He will be missed. So long, George.

from New Teen Titans #20 (June 1982)

Neal and Ivy.

§ May 2nd, 2022 § Filed under obituary § 3 Comments

As I’m sure you heard, legendary comics creator Neal Adams has passed away at the age of 80, which is pretty shocking to those of us who thought that he was just so embedded in the DNA of comics that it was impossible for him to, you know, suddenly not be around anymore.

And of course, he is still around, in that his best work continues to be reprinted again and again, particularly on Batman and Deadman. His dynamic style showing up in Marvel and DC comics at the tail end of the 1960s almost seemed to spark the feeling in other budding comic artists “wait…we can do comics like that?” Since then, his artistic influence has spread to even today, casting a shadow nearly as long as Jack Kirby’s.

I know some hay has been made about his…odd “scientific” “theories” — I’ve toted a couple of those bales myself — and let’s just kinda let those remain one of those eccentricities creative types occasionally have.

And sure, maybe some of his work wasn’t on the “redefining Batman for all time” scale:

…but that’s okay! The man did what he wanted to do, on his own terms, trying out his ideas and still keeping active even up ’til the end of his life. Most importantly, he was an avid defender of creator rights in the industry. You can thank Neal for helping DC, um, “remember” Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman and that they should put their credit on every comic, movie and TV show.

Thanks for everything Neal, even all the weird stuff. Especially all the weird stuff. You were an inspiration to generations of artists and will almost certainly continue to be. So long, Neal.

• • •

We also lost this weekend Ivy Ratafia McLeod, the partner of cartoonist/comics scholar Scott McCloud. Unlike Neal, whom I only knew through his work and interviews and such, I had actually met Ivy many times over the years. She and Scott didn’t live too far away from either my old job or my current store, and they would pop in from time to time to say hello. She was always a very charming and delightful person, and it was my great pleasure to have spent any time with her. My deepest condolences to Scott and their family on this untimely loss.

Garry Leach (1954 – 2022).

§ March 30th, 2022 § Filed under miraclemarvelman, obituary § 5 Comments

Admittedly, I bought that Miracleman #1 Eclipse put out in 1985 because I was totally in the bag for Alan Moore comics. Knowing he had a whole big thing going on in England long before he wowed me my beloved Swamp Thing comic made me want to get my mitts on anything that eventually made it over the ocean and into my local shop.

That first issue of Miracleman did not disappoint, seeing Moore take a Captain Marvel (“Shazam,” to you young folks) clone and work what was to me mostly (cough) unprecedented twists on classic genre formulas.

But what stuck with me the most from that first issue, what seared into my brain and made me anticipate the following issue more than just about any other comic I’ve ever read, was this pic right here:


Miracleman’s former young partner, Kid Miracleman, having never said his “magic” word to change back to his normal human identity of Johnny Bates, is now grown up, his superpowered body having evolved into something terrifying as it aged. There he is, just hanging in the air, charged with energy, leering at his intended victims, made all the more terrifying because he’s just wearing regular people clothes, not a skintight emblem-adorned costume with a flowing cape.

Who drew that image? Who was responsible for putting that weirdly offputting yet compelling scenario into my eyeballs, making me ponder it for a month as I awaited the next chapter, making me remember it even now, nearly forty years later?

That Garry Leach fella, that’s who.

He was only on the Miracleman (or as it known originally, and I’m sure you already know, “Marvelman”) stories for a few installments, before Alan Davis took over. However, he established the look, the dark, mundane, and near-depressing world of the strip, where the garishly-clothed Miracleman should stand out in stark contrast, but still feels…reduced, in a way, pulled into the real world and away from the kid’s comics in which he was born. A brilliant trick, one that definitely sold the kind of story Moore was trying to tell.

Of course Leach did far more than these Marvel/Miracleman strips, but it was this comic that had the greatest impact on me. Someone on Twitter had posted the two pages that lead up to that pic above, in the original black and white printing as it appeared in Warrior in the UK, and those 40 years between seeing Eclipse’s color reprint and today just washed away. It was like seeing it again for the first time…just as powerful as it ever was.

Thanks, Garry, and so long.

Oddly, no Amazing Spider-Man covers featuring photos of Steve Ditko.

§ May 21st, 2021 § Filed under obituary, publishing § 1 Comment

So y’all had some good suggestions for nice photo covers in the comments for Wednesday’s post, which I appreciate. I especially appreciate Rob Staeger’s reminder that Sandman Mystery Theatre had photo covers for its entire long-ish run, certainly an unusual accomplishment in modern comics. Or this cover noted by BobH with Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

But here comes customer Sean with a comic I wasn’t aware of…Stan Lee cosplaying as the Black Rider on issue #8 of that title from 1950:


You can Read More About It here on this Stan Lee site.

I mean, just gaze helplessly into the steely stare of Stan the Man, all masked up before it was cool:

Speaking of ol’ Stan, Eric brings up the Marvel Fumetti Book from 1984 that has him on the cover:


Thanks to the Bullpen Bulletins in every Marvel mag, plus stuff like the in-house news/previews ‘zine Marvel Age, and just the general editorial shenanigans at Marvel since the get-go, the staff and creators at Marvel were more or less known personalities by the readers. Thus, a collection of photo gags starring the folks behind the comics was something they could probably pull off. I wonder if DC could have done something similar at the time? Maybe a bunch of photo-gags starring Wolfman and Perez, or Curt Swan hanging out with Superman (I mean, in “real life,” not in the story in that last panel here), or Alan Moore terrifying the suits around the DC offices…that sort of thing.

Of course prior to that was Fandom Confidential, a photo strip that ran in The Comic Reader and Comic Buyer’s Guide. But perhaps we’re going a little astray from the simple pleasures of just plain ol’ comic book photo covers. Like this one, which isn’t weird at all.

• • •

Also wanted to note the passing of David Anthony Kraft, publisher of the wonderful Comics Interview magazine, as well as the writer of several swell comics (including, very briefly, some of the original ’70s Swamp Thing). Mark Evanier has some nice words to say here. My condolences, of course, to his family, friends, and fans.

Richard Corben (1940 – 2020).

§ December 11th, 2020 § Filed under obituary, undergrounds § 4 Comments


So I got a copy of Rowlf #1 at the shop a while back in absolutely beautiful condition. It wasn’t Near Mint, but whatever minor flaws it had did nothing to detract from the visual appeal of this cover…the second printing, by the way, as the first print had a different image. It’s certainly the first image that popped into my head when I heard that Richard Corben passed away this week at the age of 80.

The first time I encountered Corben’s art was in an early ’80s issue of Heavy Metal, at a time when I was clearly too young to be looking at this magazine. Lush, fully painted art while still being cartoonishly exaggerated…it was some of his fantasy work, in the same arena as, say, Frazetta and Vallejo, but where they were more in the realm of representational illustration, more or less, here was that weirdo Corben basically doing Tex Avery, with the Wolf’s eyes bugging out of his head and his tongue dragging on the floor. It was a strange mix of styles I hadn’t seen before and had rarely, if ever, seen since.

He’s an underground comix legend, as I’m sure I don’t need to tell anyone reading this. When people come to my store looking for undergrounds, more and more often they ask to see my “Crumb comics,” which can mean anything from actual Robert Crumb comics to Freak Brothers to, well, whatever you can think of. I’ve suggested before that “Crumb comics” may be well on its way to becoming a generic term for undergrounds. That said, the second most mentioned name from those looking for undergrounds is Corben. In fact, if anything, any Corben I get in tends to sell faster than my Crumb (I mean, actually by Crumb) books. A largish collection of Corben I took in earlier in the year was gone within just a few weeks. Demand is still high for his work, and his name still looms large among a certain segment of comics fans.

In recent years he seemed to be more active working for Marvel and DC, which, well, one has to go where the money is, but his work for these companies was no less idiosyncratic than his independent projects. The Hellblazer run he did over Brian Azzarello’s scripts, and worked with that same writer on a Hulk mini, and did some horror books for Marvel and Dark Horse…that garnered him some all new fans, certainly, who’d never seen Den.

He was a strange and unique talent, and I’m sure we’re all sad to see him go, but glad he shared as much of his imagination with us that he did.

So long, Richard.

Post-poned.

§ August 31st, 2020 § Filed under eyeball, obituary § 2 Comments

Sorry pals…was going to have an End of Civilization post ready for today, but I had a small eyeball issue and decided the less time in front of the computer monitor, the better. Hopefully I’ll have it up later in the week. Thanks for understanding.

In the meantime, I hope you join me in mourning the passing of Chadwick Boseman. My condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

“I’ll keep this reasonably short,” he lied.

§ November 29th, 2019 § Filed under obituary, x-men § 3 Comments

So I’ll keep this reasonably short since it’s Black Friday and the day after Thanksgiving and y’all have better things to do that to read some old guy’s blog. I just wanted to say that I recently watched Chris Claremont’s X-Men, a documentary about that very thing that I found on Amazon Prime. I thought it was quite interesting, with lots of onscreen interviews with Claremont, one of his editors Ann Nocenti, other-mutant-writer Louise Simonson, and former editor-in-chief of Marvel Jim Shooter.

Lots of discussion about what went into making the book what it was, how certain storylines were put together, and how it all began to fall apart. My big takeaway from it, and one that wasn’t explicitly stated but could certainly be inferred (particularly by someone like myself who watched things happen on the retail end in real time) was that Marvel’s biggest mistake in the long-term health of the X-Men franchise was the straight-up discarding of Claremont after his shepherding of the property for so many years.

I went on bit of a Twitter-tear about this a couple of days back, where I essentially said that if Marvel had just kept Claremont in control of the book, instead of booting him off in favor of the Hot Artists that were in vogue at the time…in essence, if Marvel had thought about the health of the X-Men over the long haul instead of chasing that short term dollar, the X-books might have maintained their relatively-large audience (give or take the impact of the overall market decline in the ’90s) all these years. It could have been a consistent moneymaker, rather than a series of diminishingly-returning reboots/relaunches.

As pal Andrew rightfully noted, near the end there Claremont’s writing on the titles was, perhaps, not as keen as it had once been, and in need of a change. I do believe, however, that a carefully managed changeover to a new committed writer, maybe even keeping Claremont on as a consulting editor, would have been an overall better decision than, you know, what they ended up doing. (And who knows, Claremont could’ve found a second wind on the title…if it was necessary, as readers mostly seemed to think even the latter day stuff was just fine.)

One of the unique aspects of the X-Men, like the Legion of Super-Heroes before it, was the large fandom that surrounded it, attached itself to the characters, and were highly involved in the ongoing soap-opera aspects of their lives. Once that singular vision started to splinter with Claremont’s replacement by Many Hands, that addictive soap opera element began to lose its hold…and with cancellations and reboots, the perceived chain of continuity going back years seemed to feel lost. See also…the Legion of Super-Heroes, strangely enough. And New Teen Titans, too.

Of course, there are plenty of other (X-)factors at work here…I already mentioned the declining comic market, which may have forced reboots and relaunches anyway, whether or not Claremont was still on the title. And maybe, like all things, X-Men may have had its run and declined into obscurity. But I still can’t help but feel if Claremont had stayed on the book, or at least overseen a smooth transition to new creators who could have maintained the book’s approach, maybe those readers would not have been left behind, we’d have a book building on its own past, and we wouldn’t have had multiple restarts and #1s over the last few years.

I think having Jonathan Hickman as sort of the overriding “voice” of the new spate of X-titles isn’t a bad idea…the number and frequency of those new titles is a bad idea, but that’s just how Marvel is nowadays. But people are excited about the X-Men (if not especially the other new related titles) again, which is something that hasn’t happened in recent memory. Of course, as soon as Hickman is gone, everything’s getting new #1s again and we’ll be back at square one, but it is nice to pretend that maybe we’ll see an X-Men issue number…100 again? One can only hope.

• • •

I should note the passing of comics legend Howard Cruse a couple of days ago. He was a great cartoonist, by all accounts a fine human, and it’s sad to know he’s no longer with us. His classic graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, is coming back in a 25th anniversary edition next year, and if you haven’t read it yet, you really should. If you’re new to his work in general, his official website has plenty of strips you can peruse.

So long, Howard.

Tom Spurgeon (1968 – 2019).

§ November 14th, 2019 § Filed under obituary § 6 Comments

Tom Spurgeon was a unique and treasured voice in the comics community, with the incomparable Comics Reporter being a wonderful outlet combining his sardonic worldview with his love of the medium (often despite itself).

I interacted several times over the years, usually over email and, later, Twitter. He was never anything less than friendly and kind in all my dealings with him. On occasion, and not often enough, I’d drop him a line thanking him for a mention of my site on CR, or for noting my birthday (as he did every year), and he always seemed pleased that I did. Even though I’d been in this business for a very long time, Tom doing little things like this made me really feel like I was part of the larger comics industry.

What really got me was this: I was a longtime reader of The Comics Journal, which Tom wrote for and edited for many years. That someone from TCJ, a magazine I enjoyed and admired, a magazine that held comics to a loftier standard than most, found interest and value in sometime I was writing was…validating, to say the least. I still have an email from Tom where he tells me “you know you’re my favorite!” which I’m sure I’m not the only person he’s said that to, but I still value that moment quite a bit.

I…don’t think I ever told him just how much that support, those interactions, meant to me. I had considered that maybe, someday, we’d meet in person, perhaps when he had the opportunity to visit my shop (like he said he hoped to here). Never happened, unfortunately, and so I never fully related that gratitude.

I should have, regardless, at least over email. But I can’t now, though I can still tell all of you what his support meant. And how much I’m going to miss his writing on the internet. It feels strange to think that he won’t still be around, gathering links, reviewing comics, writing commentary, being silly and/or witty on Twitter, looking askance at whatever the rest of us are up to, and otherwise just being Tom.

I know that’s the same with every death: the loss of one particular collection of perspectives, experiences and personality that can’t be replaced. But losing Tom…that’s a rough one. We’ll still have all his writing to enjoy, but it’s difficult to imagine there being no more.

My condolences to his family, his friends, and to the rest of us.

So long, Tom.

A less-brief update.

§ December 24th, 2018 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, obituary § 7 Comments

Hi pals! When we last met, I was still in recovery from some minor eyeball surgery and hoping to be back in full swing in time for Christmas. Well, as it turns out, there’s a minor complication requiring me to go back under the knife this coming Thursday. Nothing serious, just, you know, can’t see out of my right eye since blood ain’t clearing out of it. But I was warned beforehand that this was a possibility, so everything should be fine. It just has to be done, so dood it I will.

But thanks to all of you for your well wishes and kind words, and Progressive Ruin Industries will be up and running again in short order, processing that comics-related product that you’ve grown accustomed to over the last decade and a half.

In the meantime, I will have a special Christmas post up tomorrow…in fact, it’s already put together and scheduled to publish, so it’s too late to stop it now. And I’ll have the annual “gimme your comic predictions for next year” post up Wednesday, so warm up your clairvoyant powers for that. And then, most likely, the rest of week I’ll take off, but I plan to be back the following Monday.

On a somewhat related note, I was pretty happy to have a new issue of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen show up last week…I’d been looking forward to reading it, but I was curious as to why the latest installment came prebagged:


When I popped it open to discover the reason, lo and behold, 3D GLASSES:


This is pretty much the face I made:


Ah, well…something to look forward to after the surgery, I guess.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and I’ll meet you all back here tomorrow and Wednesday.

• • •

I should note the passing of Brian Snell, the person behind the Slay, Mostrobot comics blog. He clearly loved the comics medium and had many people who appreciated and supported the work he did expressing that appreciation on a daily basis. My condolences to his friends and fans.

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